Oswald Gloaming

For days, Oregon had been threatening to put on its worst summer storm weather for the occasion of the surfing visit of my friend Joel Barron. Joel’s an old buddy from college who, having moved to southern California for work in mid-lift, has taken up surfing. I had convinced him to come up and surf a couple of days with me this summer in the cold waters of North Coast Oregon. But as his arrival approached the winds, and the forecast surf, were looking sketchier and sketchier. Big swell with a long period, which sounded ok, but with huge winds, wind-waves that threatened to swamp the swell, etc. The waters at Arch Cape (which I am learning are not a reliable indicator of conditions elsewhere, but still) looked terrible. Impassible whitewater. And gray skies everywhere.

Surfing 15: Oswald West Evening Session

Joel arrived at our house Monday just before the dinner hour, just in time to make an evening session at Oswald. He took a look at the sea, as I had, and just let out a little “that’s how it goes” sort of laugh. The waters really did look unattractive: cold, turbulent, chaotic, green gray on black gray on white spray. But we got our gear together, and made our way to Oswald by about 7 pm, maybe an hour before high tide would peak. Amazingly, it was sunny. The wind was dying down. And the waters in the middle looked… very surfable.

When Oswald works, it works. The southeast facing beach is sheltered from evil northerly winds and the channel-like cove protects the waters from chop and incoherence. As we made our way out in the middle, we found it not too difficult to make it out into the four-foot swell, and were a bit surprised to find the shapes to be excellent for riding, and the surface was, in places, almost glassy. The sun played on the spray at the top of the waves, giving everything a kind of classic appearance and shape, almost like an off-shore wind. I was so pleased. Given the overall weather pattern and prevailing surf conditions, Oswald put on its best possible face for Joel. There weren’t too many people, the setting was beautiful, the waves were ride-able. We had many rides, and lots of fun. All in all, an awesome session. There is nothing like an evening surf at high-tide. We pushed it until the sun left the tallest trees, and the outer points were under the shadow of the horizon. We were among the last five surfers in the water. Having clambered back onto the rocks and logs at about 9:15 pm, just after sunset, we had hot tea, and made our way back to the car just before dark.


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